BOSTON -- The Red Sox team that will take on the Cardinals in the World Series beginning Wednesday night at Fenway Park (7:30 ET, 8:07 ET first pitch, FOX) was not so much built as rebuilt. When the pregame ceremonies begin, there will be only 11 players on the roster who were around in 2012.
The way general manager Ben Cherington was able to package Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez and send them to the Dodgers is already part of franchise lore. Those three combined would have recieved more than $58 million in 2013 alone. The way Cherington then mixed the clubhouse chemistry by bringing in players like Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster has also been stitched firmly into the storied history of the organization.
As a result, Boston's Opening Day payroll dropped dramatically, from about $175 million last season to about $155 million this year. Still, that remains one of the higher figures in the Major Leagues, about $38 million more than the Cardinals'.
Still, manager John Farrell stressed the importance of having homegrown players during his media availability Tuesday.
"I firmly believe that the players who come through that path, they have maybe a greater sense of ownership because it is their original organization," he said. "And that may translate into a difference on the field, with the way they compete, the way they go about it, knowing that they're playing for what they know as their home in pro baseball."
While much of the attention in this matchup goes to the Cardinals' ability to develop their own players, the Red Sox have not been too shabby in that department, either. Game 1 starter Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz were originally signed by the Red Sox. So were sparkplug second baseman Dustin Pedroia, the fleet Jacoby Ellsbury and Will Middlebrooks.
"It's a good foundation to build an organization," Pedroia said. "St. Louis has done an unbelievable job, and so have we, of drafting guys and developing them and getting them to the big leagues. There are a lot of guys here that this is the only team they know. That's what makes it fun.
"The goal when I got drafted was to make it with the Red Sox. It wasn't to make it with the Cardinals or anything like that. So you set your mind on making it with a certain team, and hopefully you make it and help them win."
|Jon Lester||Draft||2002 (2nd)|
|Dustin Pedroia||Draft||2004 (2nd)|
|Felix Doubront||Int'l sign||2004|
|Clay Buchholz||Draft||2005 (1st, supp)|
|Jacoby Ellsbury||Draft||2005 (1st)|
|Will Middlebrooks||Draft||2007 (5th)|
|Junichi Tazawa||Int'l sign||2008|
|Xander Bogaerts||Int'l sign||2009|
Part of what helped the Red Sox go from last place a year ago to the World Series a year later is what they did not do, which was panic when Lester and Buchholz had down seasons in 2012. They also kept the faith when Ellsbury and Middlebrooks were hurt.
"As difficult as that was, we really were very optimistic about the state of the organization, even though we knew we had a lot of work to do," Cherington said earlier in the postseason. "We still had a core of homegrown guys on the Major League team in their prime years and under control. Our farm system was developing not just depth, but also guys percolating to the top of the system."
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the Cardinal Way, the organizational philosophy that has given St. Louis sustained success. Dempster was asked what he thought the Red Sox Way was.
"Be as prepared as we possibly can, play as hard as we can and play the game with respect," he said. "With the talent we have and the hard work that goes into it, we've had good results because of that. Those are the most important things we've focused on along the way."
Farrell defined it like this: "That there's a relentless approach to play a complete game every night. I know that's painting with a broad brush, but we look to be relentless in every aspect of the game. That's a mindset, an attitude, that we've worked hard at creating."
ACQUIRED VIA TRADE
|Jake Peavy||2013||White Sox|
The Red Sox have hit big in the first two rounds of the Draft (Lester, Pedroia, Buchholz, Ellsbury) but have also done well signing and developing international players.
Among the 10 playoff teams this year, only the Dodgers equaled Boston's total of three homegrown foreign players on the postseason roster: Felix Doubront from Venezuela, Junichi Tazawa from Japan and Xander Bogaerts from Aruba. Doubront, moved to the bullpen for the postseason but was a regular starter during the season, Tazawa was a reliable reliever and Bogaerts could be the regular shortstop as early as next season.
ACQUIRED VIA FREE AGENCY
|Daniel Nava||2008 (Minor League)|
Trades have provided depth but have not been the most effective part of Extreme Makeover: Red Sox Edition. Mike Carp and Franklin Morales were both cash deals. The others were moves made in the margins, the kind that often go overlooked but help teams win.
The Red Sox signed an amazing seven free agents last winter and have 10 on the postseason roster. But none were at the Crawford-Gonzalez level that turned out to be such disappointments.
Victorino got the most guaranteed money: $39 million over three years. But the key had little to do with money. It had to do with the way the new guys blended in and changed the culture of the clubhouse.
"This is the first time in my career I've gone through an entire 162-game season without one team meeting," Victorino said. "That's a tribute to [Farrell], but it's a also a tribute to the kind of guys we have here."
Added Gomes: "Winning and losing each game is an individual thing. But winning over the course of an entire season is a team thing."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.